February 21, 2024

School spirit: Adamson starting five among active players in PBA

School spirit: Adamson starting five among active players in PBA
Art by Royce Nicdao

During the opening of the PBA’s 48th season, several players got into their school spirit, with alumni from different universities getting together after the parade of teams and snapping a group photo or two. We snagged some of them, in fact, as they made their rounds on social media.

The Band of Brothers known as the Ateneo Blue Eagles certainly looked fire:

The La Salle Green Archers of before weren’t to be outdone:

The former FEU Tamaraws were representing, too:

These fire photos show unequivocally the massive talent pipeline that is the UAAP, and it also got us thinking: How would a starting five look like if it were made up of active players from each university? For instance, whose players from, say La Salle, would comprise the starting unit of a hypothetical team?

It got us thinking… and thinking… and thinking… And so we buckled down to work to feed our curiosity. The result is this series, where we picked the starting five of each university—with the only criterion being every player must still be active in the PBA.

We’ll start with the Adamson Soaring Falcons, the school that produced PBA great Marlou Aquino and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes:

Jericho Cruz (Season 75 to Season 76)

Cruz is arguably the most accomplished Falcon in the pro ranks today, having been named Most Improved player in 2016, making the All-Star team thrice already, and winning a pair of titles (one with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, the other with the San Miguel Beermen). He is also probably one of the more complete Adamson alumni ever to make it to the big league with his savvy playmaking, reliable shooting, and pesky defense.

Jerrick Ahanmisi (Season 79 to Season 82)

The youngest of this bunch, Ahanmisi is taking some time to fully blossom—and that is no fault of his own. He’s simply in that stacked Magnolia Hotshots backcourt headed by Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, and Jio Jalalon, which means big minutes are hard to come by. But he can most certainly shoot the lights out, and he would make for a perfect complement to Cruz’s playmaking at this all-Adamson backcourt.  

Don Trollano (Season 75 to Season 77)

Trollano took that so-called leap last season, posting career highs in minutes (32.7), points (16.2), field goal percentage (47%), three-point shooting (44%), and assists (2.4) in 37 meaningful games for the NLEX Road Warriors. Even so, he continues to be a workhorse on defense, too, routinely taking on the challenge of defending some of the PBA premier perimeter scorers. And, with Cruz, Trollano figures to form a lethal two-way duo.  

Eric Camson (Season 72 to Season 75)

Undersized at the four at 6-foot-4, Camson has nonetheless shown he can hang with the big boys by playing with a ferocity and physicality that have long been a Camson speciality. More than that, the 33-year-old vet is built for the modern game—with a nice touch from the outside, dribbling and playmaking chops, and quick enough feet to do damage on offense.

Rodney Brondial (Season 73 to Season 76)

Brondial is a lot like Camson—tenacious, physical, ferocious. But, unlike Camson, Brondial does most of his damage on offense in the paint, though he has enough of a touch to make the occasional middies. He’d be undersized at the five with this squad, but he won’t be overmatched—at least for the most part—simply because of all the effort he will sure put in for the team.

Breaking down the team

The thing that sticks out right away with this starting five is that it is devoid of a superstar like a Lee or a June Mar Fajardo or even a Christian Standhardinger. But it is filled one through five with role players willing to set aside their ego and just do whatever it takes to win. Three of them—Cruz, Trollano, and Camson—are also better-than-average two-way studs who have developed into stars in their own right.

All in all, this team is neither sexy nor super-talented. But it will fight tooth and nail every possession and will drag any team it plays into a war of attrition. And it will break some wills every now and then.